NOV 05, 2016 5:33 PM PDT

New Details on how Cells Keep RNA Errors in Check

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch
Genetic information has to be copied in order to eventually create the proteins that are needed for an organism to function. The cell has to make sure to prevent mistakes in that process from having deleterious effects. Work from researchers at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has revealed new details on how that is accomplished. 
 


Publishing in Scientific Reports, they determined that when there are mistakes in mRNA, the molecule that carries genetic information from the genome to be made into proteins, those aberrant strands of messenger RNA (mRNA) are prevented from leaving the nucleus. When they exit, it is through the nuclear pore complex, outlined in the above video. When mRNA is kept inside the nucleus, it eventually gets degraded by cellular machinery. The investigators hope that understanding more about this process could aid in disease research.

"Some components of this machinery are dysregulated in various types of cancers," explained the principal investigator of the work, Mohammad Mofrad, Faculty Scientist at Berkeley Lab's Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Division. "Understanding the molecular mechanism of genetic information transport and quality control would substantially improve the current knowledge about various types of cancers and other human diseases."

"Just like all production lines, the process of genetic information transfer and protein production is quality controlled at different stages," continued Mofrad. "To date, the exact mechanism of this quality control step has remained unclear."

While previous work has investigated steps in the process, all of the exact details of RNA quality control in the nucleus is still under study. This work utilized computer modeling to help put all of the pieces of the puzzle together. The computer model was validated using the known data and expected conclusions of previous studies.

"With experiments, we can study parts of a system, but there are limitations to their ability to provide the level of spatial and temporal resolution we need to really understand the behavior of a whole system," commented Soheilypour.

In this work, the scientists looked at how mRNA, proteins that bind RNA and molecules called nuclear basket proteins all interact. Nuclear basket proteins act as a sort of gateway through which mRNA has to pass in order to exit the nucleus. The investigators ran simulations on the computer to learn more about what influences mRNA transport from the nucleus.

It was found that many interactions between proteins allow the cell to ensure the quality of mRNA. RNA-binding proteins bind to every strand of mRNA and aid in the recruit of export receptors. Nuclear basket proteins use the interaction between export receptors and RNA-binding proteins to locate and retain aberrant mRNA.

"Imagine that in order to exit the gate, you need a certain number of validated tickets. The RNA-binding proteins are like the tickets the mRNA needs to get out, but those tickets need to be validated by the export factors. Without enough validated tickets, the guard proteins do not recognize the mRNA strand as something to let pass through the membrane's gate," explained Soheilypour.
They researchers also learned that longer strands of mRNA have a more difficult trip through the nuclear membrane. It’s still not known why, but the scientists suggest it could be because that longer length means more time spent there checking for “validated tickets.”

Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! via Berkeley Lab, Scientific Reports
 
About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
SEP 09, 2020
Microbiology
Changing How We Think of Drug Resistance in Fungi
SEP 09, 2020
Changing How We Think of Drug Resistance in Fungi
It's been estimated that fungal infections cause more than one million deaths worldwide, and many more are affected.
OCT 09, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Proteins Have an Orientation in Plant Cells
OCT 09, 2020
Proteins Have an Orientation in Plant Cells
Just like animals, plants are made of cells that are full of proteins. The proteins in plant cells are often only found ...
OCT 26, 2020
Cancer
Investigating the Receptor Protein FPR1 in Brain Cancer
OCT 26, 2020
Investigating the Receptor Protein FPR1 in Brain Cancer
Amongst the more common targets for cancer therapies are cell surface receptors. These receptors are proteins – us ...
NOV 01, 2020
Plants & Animals
Plant Hormone Auxin Helps Orient Growth of Plant Veins
NOV 01, 2020
Plant Hormone Auxin Helps Orient Growth of Plant Veins
There are veins in plants that move nutrients and other important molecules around. These veins have to be carefully org ...
NOV 13, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Astrocytes are Star Players in the Brain
NOV 13, 2020
Astrocytes are Star Players in the Brain
As neurons fire, they enable us to think and move. They signal to one another where they meet at synapses, and at chemic ...
NOV 19, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
A Different View of Chromosomes
NOV 19, 2020
A Different View of Chromosomes
Many of us are familiar with typical diagrams of a chromosome, which is usually drawn like a stubby X. While that pictur ...
Loading Comments...